When someone says “take five” they usually mean chill out and relax. This meaning is very appropriate for this new restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere featuring American (new) Greek and Mediterranean food. Opening in April 2012, Vasillas’ Take Five Vittles and Vices, is located at 901 Williamson St. Madison, WI., the burgeoning area fast becoming the place to go for the latest in culinary pleasures. For Vasillis’ Kallias, the General Manager, Owner, and Chef, the name has another meaning as this his fifth restaurant location he opened in the greater Madison area in recent years. Vasillis’ was born in Athens and lived for a period in Mykonos. He moved to the United States to go to college where he studied accounting but found his love for food was his passion and opening restaurants seemed the logical next step. He has been cooking Mediterranean dishes for forty years and his enthusiasm is evident in the delicious dishes he produces in the kitchen.
During my first visit for lunch I ordered the Mousaka, a layering of eggplant, ground sirloin, bechamel, vegetables and sauce. It is a recipe, I was told by Mike, manager of the front of the house, that is 2500 years old. Made originally by people in robes and sandals the only thing that has changed is the use of a modern oven instead of a pit lined with hot rocks. I was served a huge portion of deliciousness and I somehow managed to consume the whole thing. I literally could not stop eating it. My dining partner had the braised lamb shank and was equally enamored by the tenderness and compliment of the red wine-cherry sauce. I have since tasted the spanakopita, a vegetarian offering of spinach and feta cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and served with a lemon-dill sauce and the gyros sandwich made with chicken or lamb with a cucumber sauce in a warm pita. Both were really good and I would order again. As an appetizer, I would highly recommend the sampler platter that comes with dolma (stuffed grape leaves), cheese and spinach pies wrapped in phyllo, and by far my most favorite of all the taste treats, their amazing house made eggplant and chickpea hummus. A fusion recipe of babba ghannouj and traditional hummus, it is by far the most delicious hummus I have ever tasted. No lie!
This restaurant with its simple decor in shades of teal, chartreuse, and charcoal is relaxed with a full bar, a menu of a dozen different martinis, and offers daily food specials listed on its website, www.take5madison.com . Their motto EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY says it all. Great food, drink and comfortable atmosphere makes you want to return and bring your friends. Don’t forget to order a glass of ouzo which Mike says must be served over ice. Trust me when I say that sipping this drink will have you dreaming of lazing in a taverna, with the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean and brilliant blue skies as a captivating backdrop. It sets the mood for this tantalizing eating adventure not in Greece but on the corner of Williamson and Paterson St. in Madison, WI. Reasonable prices, large portions, and great food! I urge you to check it out!